Remedy Your 'House of Cards' Withdrawals with These 8 Alternatives
If love House of Cards the way I do, you started missing Frank Underwood the second the screen cut to black at the end of Season 2. I wouldn't say I'm obsessed with Netflix's biggest original series: I recognize some of the problematic aspects of the show, and I'm occasionally annoyed that the American version feels the need to kill an Underwood disciple in every season opener and finale. But I'm still addicted to the Kevin Spacey South Carolina lilt, and Claire's seemingly endless collection of dark-hued power dresses. So these next eight-or-so months of a Spacey-less existence will be tough.
Sure, I've seen Michael Kelly philosophize about whether his character will return to the show, and a casting call has been put out for extras, but until Season 3 begins filming, the HoC news will be relatively quiet, and I'm beginning to get antsy. In my withdrawal phase, I have turned to a number of other purveyors of politics and carnage, which try to fill the hole the Underwoods have left in my probably-black heart. Even though these shows, books, games, and other distractions won't replace the beauty and diabolicalness of Frank's beltway, they may satiate your hankering for thrilling political entertainment until next February. Who knows, you might even be able to forget about Doug Stamper's body lying in a forest or Frank's inauguration for a few months.
House of Cards (the British one)
In between the first and second seasons, watching the British version of House of Cards seemed foolish: it would ruin some plot points while confusing Americans with parliamentary politics. Now that the showrunner has confirmed that "we don't use the BBC version for guidance in terms of the plot," it's safe to begin watching Frank Urquhart taking over London. Of course you'll know some of the twists and turns, but the original political thriller is not to be missed.
If you want a video game with as many surprises and plot twists as House of Cards, look no further than Bioshock Infinite. Like Frank's life, the game features moral dilemmas, past demons, and a heavy dose of perverted Americana. Bioshock of course also has the added benefits of a steampunk aesthetic and a twist ending that will make Peter Russo's murder look like the finale of The Sopranos.
The Manchurian Candidate
I know this classic is often touted by film buffs, but if you're committed to political intrigue, it's worth a watch. The interweaving sets of Americans and Cold War spies make this film gripping, but the realization that it came out at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis will bring its chilling lessons home. Be sure to watch the black-and-white 1962 version, though, since the 2004 remake just can't quite compare.
Sadly, Veep's latest season has just ended, but if you haven't caught up on Selina Meyer's exploits, it's time to check on her campaign. Sans HoC characters, Selina is probably one of the most ruthless political TV characters, and her insults are easily Underwood calibre. We've already talked about how amazing a Veep-HoC mashup would be, so get on it, Netflix.
Dial M for Murder
The old Hitchcock favorites are still great examples of the suspense that House of Cards fans relish in, so if you'd like to substitute North by Northwest or Vertigo for this film, feel free. However, Dial M for Murder has a certain amount of cerebral value that the fast-paced thrillers lack, and for that reason, I think it's a great off-season alternative to Frank's antics.
Of course, any discussion of DC backstabbing would be amiss without Scandal. If you need to see the maniacal plotting and ferocious sexual chemistry of the Underwood household again, look no further than Kerry Washington's brilliant performance as Olivia Pope. Bonus: her wardrobe is even better than Claire's.
Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72
There's nothing like some good old Hunter S to cure a boring summer. Whether he's embedded with a gang of bikers, drinking too much rum on a Caribbean beach, or following the Democratic Party through a turbulent election, Hunter's adventures will always take you on a ride. In this collection of articles originally published in Rolling Stone, Thompson shows his political side and follows the divided and disorganized 1972 Democratic presidential campaign. Read the book, then watch this collection of Washing wonks attempt to bring Thompson down.
The West Wing
I'm sure most of you have seen The West Wing, but if you haven't, at least watch the first three or four seasons. Nobody expects you to make it through the terribly-paced, non-Sorkin seventh season, but if you've never seen President Jed Bartlet speak, you need to. Then you can walk into Season 3 of HoC with an understanding of the American political television tropes Kevin Spacey and crew are up against.